Monmouth takes the world by storm


The Monmouth bench with yet another great celebration

College Basketball is back and better than ever. Even this early in the season, there have been some teams that are stepping up and playing well. Most teams that people would think of are teams like Kentucky, UNC, Kansas and Maryland. But the team I’m speaking about is a team that I’m sure very few people have even heard of. That team is the Monmouth University Hawks.

They have slowly made a name for themselves, and not just with their play. Over the past few weeks, Monmouth played some big name teams such as Notre Dame (won 70-68), Dayton (lost 73-70), and USC (won 83-73) while in a tournament in Florida. But what shocked most people were the bench celebrations that these kids came up with.

Every time a player on their team would make a three-pointer or dunk it, they would come up with a cool celebration. One included a player picking another player up by his legs, and scissoring his legs together. No one knows what that means but I’m sure it was cool to watch. People started to notice and in a few days, they were all over ESPN. These kids don’t get in the game for a single minute but ¬†they are on ESPN. Unbelievable.

The NCAA men’s basketball rules secretary-editor supposedly received a request for a rules interpretation for the boisterous bench celebrations. They have no right because it says in the rules that a player cannot go out on the court to interfere with the game and if they look at the tape, not once did they interfere with the game. They were just a bunch of kids trying to make the most out of their experience.

Monmouth’s excitable subs, nicknamed “The Hawks’ Nest” began getting noticed in mid-November during the team’s season-opening win at UCLA. Sophomore guard Dan Pillari noticed the cameras zoomed in on the bench mob when they were celebrating.

“We were like, ‘We’ve got to run with this,'” Pillari recalled. “‘We can do some funny stuff.'” Well run with it they did. this has become more than celebrating. they are the buzz around college basketball. The bench really upped its game after the team’s season-opening overtime win at UCLA on Nov. 13. It realized the game against a nationally ranked Irish squad two weeks later would provide a huge opportunity for both the on-floor players and the bench players.

Pillari, along with teammates Greg Noack, Tyler Robinson and Louie Pillari, have bench meetings following their scout team meetings to discuss possible celebrations for the upcoming game. In total, they have upward of 23 celebrations to choose from. On any given night, they might go into a game with 12 or 13 in their back pockets, and sometimes they might give everything they have and let their creativity do the rest.

Between the four of them, they’ve played a total of two minutes this season. But they’ve made Monmouth perhaps the most fun team to watch in college hoops. Here’s a sampling of their greatest work. We’re hoping we’ll see more as the season goes on, perhaps ending in an NCAA Tournament trip.

I love to see things like this because it shows that it isn’t just about playing basketball, but more about taking advantage of the opportunity presented and having fun with it.